Friday, April 11, 2008

I am from...

Reading Shirley's blog (about a month ago - yes, I am slow!) I was moved by her (and those she linked to) posting on where she came from. Childhood memories. Generations past. Where am I from? Let me tell you...

I am from working class roots with smatterings of middle class generations ago. I am from English immigrants (who were originally from Europe via Ireland) coming to New Zealand for a better life for their family. I am from a love story begun on an immigrant ship on the stormy seas. I am from the music played by the talented fingers of a great-grandfather I never knew.

I am from Papa who came home safely from war. I am from gardeners who toiled morning and night to feed their growing families.

I am from men not afraid of sweat so their families could eat. I am from women who plied needles and thread to clothe their children. I am from Grandma who taught me the skills of embroidery - and who tried, in vain, to get me to drink tea.

I am from peppermints - hidden by Papa when he was baby sitting. I am from the peas I helped Grandma shell for dinner. I am from gladioli and carnations, allysum and wallflowers, violets and dusty millers grown by Papa for their beauty, not for their usefulness.

I am from high hedges and tin fences, concrete yard and grassy lawns. I am from wooden floors and bedside mats and Dad never finishing the decorating "improvements" he started. I am from the fire crackling in the grate with the sofa pulled up close to keep us cosy on cold winter's nights. I am from bread speared on a long "no 8 wire" fork and toasted over the fire.

I am from "Listen with Mother" on the big radio which stood on the floor and stories on Sunday mornings on the transistor radio listened to while still tucked up in bed, eating the few little lollies left by Mum by my bedside.

I am from my sister's hand-me-down clothes made from Mum's dresses. I am from my first new frock, the one Uncle Phil gave me for Christmas when I was four and the cuddly teddy he gave me when I was born - from a black and white toy police car with a red light on top and a little toy organ which ran on batteries.

I am from climbing the neighbour's huge apple tree with the neighbour's youngest son. I am from crying while watching "Lassie" on another neighbour's tv. I am from the old Plymouth car where I stood behind the front seat so I could see out, or slept on the back seat with my sister on the long drive home from Christchurch.

I am from dogs - our Chloe and Uncle Selby's Jill who let me ride on her back (NOT Aunty Betty's - Binks always growled at me!). I am from Uncle Selby's trial dogs, dogs I was not allowed to touch but only to watch from my perch on the old tin fence. From his horses with their soft lips nuzzling my hand for the sweet grass I gave them.

I am from red cardigans and black gymfrock, red and black striped tie and white shirt. I am from school milk, drunk through yellow paper straws. I am from padder tennis bats and monkey bars with sharp gravel beneath. I am from assemblies, and marching, school choirs and latin roots. I am from ANZAC parades - marching in lines to the memorial, the laying of wreaths and the tears of Taps.

I am from long summers in borrowed caravans, camping at the lake too icy-cold to swim in. I am from fishing and shooting at targets in the dusty hall and following Dad around the golf course pulling his trundler. I am from riding on my bike to the baths with friends on Saturdays and eating cinnamon sticks or aniseed wheels or TT2s on the way home.

I am from books and knitting needles - and curling up in a chair with both at the same time. I am from Dollar Scholar, man on the moon and watching Princess Anne's wedding on our new colour tv with all the neighbours crowded in the room.

I am from bad times and good times. I am ME!


Diantee said...

Thank you for sharing your life like this. So many of the things you have written remind me of my life.

Stell said...

I think I might have to do this, reading about what other people are makes it clearer we are the sum of our experiences. There are some things we share and others we don't. My dad was a renovation starter as well, probably why I am so keen not to buy do 'er uppers.

Tanya said...

Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed reading your essay.